ORLANDO Pirates coach Vladamir Vermezovic felt their big game experience played a key role in overcoming Maritzburg United in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup on Saturday.
The Buccaneers booked a final showdown with Bidvest Wits in two weeks after securing a 2-1 win over the Team of Choice in Pietermaritzburg.
An own-goal from Mario Booysen gave the away side the lead after 52 minutes, before Mpho Makola doubled the lead on the hour. Terrance Mandaza pulled one back for the hosts with 17 minutes to play, but the Soweto side held on.
“I think experience was a big factor because our guys they know how to play these types of games,” Vermezovic said. “It’s totally different from ordinary league games.”
The final will be Pirates’ fourth one of the campaign, although they are yet to win any silverware ending as runners-up in the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and CAF Champions League.
The Serbian coach also believed that the recent heavy fixture schedule may have worked in their favour after they played their fourth game in a little under two weeks, while the hosts were featuring in a first fixture for over a fortnight.
“I felt it was a very interesting and open game,” he said. “We were well prepared physically because we’ve been playing games every three games.
“Maybe this break for them wasn’t so good. I think they were more aggressive in the game we played 20 days ago and today I could see they weren’t as aggressive as then.”
And he thought United may have been slightly overawed by the occasion, considering it was their first semi-final in history.
“Maybe that was also down to the importance of the game, being a big semi-final, which could have lead to them being a bit more scared,” Vermezovic added. “At the end of the day, we deserved this win. I’m happy with the result and to have reached another final.”
Opposite number Steve Komphela felt the failure to properly execute their counter-attacking game plan during the first half proved to be ultimately decisive.
“The mistake we consistently made in the first half was not completing our defensive work,” the Team of Choice coach said.
“We sat nicely, we defended well, we put eight bodies behind the ball, but as soon as we regained possession through our goalkeeper, we were unable to hit them quickly enough on the counter. The transitions were not swift and at some stages they were non-existent.
“Apart from that, I am very proud of the performance of my team. They’ve done extremely well to get this far.”
Pirates take on BidVest Wits in the final of the competition. This after the Clever Boys knocked out the defending champions of the competition Kaizer Chiefs in another semi final match played also on Saturday.-www.psl.co.za